Campus housing options diversify

For hundreds of students, on-campus housing may become more available in the future.

Oakland University’s housing department has hired design firm Design Plus to evaluate OU’s current housing situation and make recommendations for the future.

The department is scheduled to present its second draft of plans to OU President Gary Russi on May 28.

Following the proposal is a long process, requiring approval and input from the board of trustees and the university financial team, which could take several years.   

“The current Michigan economy makes it tougher,” said Director of Housing Lionel Maten. “The process would take 28 to 30 months ideally.”

Returning OU students with contracts to live on campus in the upcoming school year have increased 35 percent from fall of 2008, while incoming freshmen with contracts are up 33 percent.

Despite the current proposal, students planning to live on campus won’t have to wait years to see a change in the format of the dorms.

After receiving positive reviews about the major-specific nursing floor in Vandenberg, another floor in the same building has been set aside for business majors.

“We’re exploring the growth of ‘living and learning’ floors,” Maten said. “Housing has tried to grow with the academic communities.”

Maten added that more major-specific dorm communities may be on the way and that the housing department is open to other majors as well, if they have enough students.

“I think medical majors might need a floor more,” said sophomore biology major Linda Camen. “Just because of the intense courses they have to take. If you have the same students living with you and taking the same classes, it could be easier to study and achieve.”

Camen, who lived in Hamlin her freshman year and will live in Vandenberg in the fall, believes that more housing will benefit OU.

“The lines signing up for housing were unbelievable,” she said. “Students want rooms and if there were more, the lines would be way quicker.”

The future housing plan would provide more space for students to live on campus, and add a new look to the future dorms.

“Conceptually, we’re looking at more meeting-type rooms,” Maten said. “Students could study, professors could possibly teach. The physical structure would be different.”

The dorms would have more of a bedroom feel, possibly with a kitchen, and would also be more akin to schools, as the students would live and attend certain classes in the same building.

In the fall semester an international village will also be available in the student apartments to approximately 15 foreign students, each of whom will be matched up with a domestic student from the International Students and Scholars Office.

“They could get the on-campus experience but also learn about American culture,” said ISSO Assistant Director Petra Knoche. “This year is stage one, but we’re hoping to next year get the whole floor and eventually the whole building.”

The community’s goal is to integrate students into both OU and the United States, with the housing department providing additional financial resources to ensure that their aim is reached.

Interested students can fill out housing forms, located in Hamlin Hall, and can see either the ISSO or Housing office for more details. Spaces in the village are provided on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Though OU students have desired greater on-campus housing each year, with this year’s on-file contracts increasing 21 percent, they may not see more dorms in the near future.